You are on page 1of 2

E-73-W

Household and Structural


Department of Entomology

POWDERPOST BEETLES
Gary W. Bennett, Extension Entomologist

Powderpost beetles are second only to termites as de-


stroyers of seasoned wood, such as that used in buildings
and furniture. There are several kinds of powderpost beetles,
but they all damage wood in about the same way and require
the same control measures. The most common species in In-
diana is the Lyctus beetle, which attacks the sapwood portion
of hardwoods such as oak, hickory, ash, and walnut. Other
species feed in heartwood as well as sapwood, and will also
attack pines and the softer woods.
ADULT
TYPE OF DAMAGE AND WHERE IT OCCURS 1 to 35 days
Flying, mating, egg laying
The surface of powderpost beetle-infested wood is per- EGG
forated with numerous small “shot holes,” each about the 1 to 4 weeks
size of a pencil lead or slightly larger. Any slight jarring of the Laid on or in wood
wood causes a fine, flour-like powder to sift from these holes.
When cut or broken, the interior of infested wood may reveal
masses of this finely-packed powder.
Sub-flooring, hardwood flooring, joists, sills, plates and
interior trim are the parts of buildings most frequently attacked.
Other wood products like hickory furniture, implement handles
and ladders may also be damaged. If infestations in wood are
not treated, the structural strength of the wood can eventually
be seriously depleted. PUPA
1 to 4 weeks
LIFE HISTORY Change from larva to adult
occurs near wood surface LARVA
Powderpost beetles are small (about 1/12 to 1/5 inch long) 1 1/2 months to 12 years
and usually reddish-brown to nearly black. They emerge from Feeding within wood
infested wood from late winter through early summer. During
this time, the females lay eggs in the wood pores. These eggs
hatch into tiny curved grubs that eat into the wood, packing
their burrows with the finely pulverized wood. When fully grown,
the grubs go through a pupal stage and once again emerge The typical lifecycle of a lyctid powderpost beetle. The
as beetles. Powderpost beetles require from a few months larval, or grub stage in which the wood-destroying
to several years to complete one generation, depending on beetles do their damage, is long in proportion to
the species and the starch content of the wood. the rest of the life cycle.
2 Powderpost Beetles— E-73-W

Treating during the spring of the year is the best time since
the adults are emerging from the wood at that time. Several
treatments may be necessary; if fresh powder is seen a week
or so after treatment, the insecticide residues have dissipated
and need to be replenished by another treatment.
Care should be exercised in treating hardwood floors and
other finished surfaces to avoid marring the finish. If in doubt,
treat a small, hidden area first.
Most wood-infesting beetles will not reinfest wood that
has been painted or finished in some way. However, beetle
larvae in finished wood will mature and emerge as adult
beetles, leaving the characteristic “shot holes” on the surface
of the wood. Wooden items can be cooled to 0°F for several
weeks or heated to 150°F for 4 hours to kill infestations, but
care must be taken not to damage the wood in the freezing
or heating process.
Lyctid powderpost beetle: a) larva, b) adult Many dependable and experienced pest control compa-
nies provide effective powderpost beetle control services. If
the infestation is extensive in a structure or in hard to treat
areas, it may be necessary to fumigate. Professional pest
PROCEDURES FOR CONTROL control will be required for these situations.

Permethrin, cypermethrin, and cyfluthrin are examples of
pyrethroid insecticides (listed as the active ingredient on the
label) available as emulsifiable concentrates (EC) that can
be diluted by mixing with water according to label directions.
Control powderpost beetles by spraying or painting in-
fested wood with one of the above mentioned insecticides. All
surfaces being treated must be thoroughly wetted for effective
control. This type of treatment will kill emerging adults rather
than larvae since the insecticide will penetrate only slightly
into the wood.

READ AND FOLLOW ALL LABEL INSTRUCTIONS. THIS INCLUDES DIRECTIONS FOR USE, PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS (HAZARDS TO HUMANS, DOMESTIC ANIMALS, AND ENDANGERED
SPECIES), ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS, RATES OF APPLICATION, NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS, REENTRY INTERVALS, HARVEST RESTRICTIONS, STORAGE AND DISPOSAL, AND ANY SPECIFIC
WARNINGS AND/OR PRECAUTIONS FOR SAFE HANDLING OF THE PESTICIDE.

June 2016

It is the policy of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational pro-
grams, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status,
sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran.
Purdue University is an Affirmative Action institution. This material may be available in alternative formats.

Order or download materials from


Purdue Extension • The Education Store
www.the-education-store.com
1-888-EXT-INFO • www.extension.purdue.edu